What’s the most valuable piece of everyday gear? If forced to choose, I’d probably give two answers – A Swiss Army Knife and a reliable watch. So when Wenger, one of the makers of the legendary multi-tool, agreed to send one of their watches my way, I was anxious to give it a shot. Here’s my look at the Wenger 72815 Field Watch.
Let’s hit the dimensions and design before examining the details. This is a 41mm watch, featuring a stainless steel case with a water resistance rating of 100-meters. The 20mm band is composed of calfskin leather and woven nylon, with a box-and-tong clasp. On the face, users will be treated to large numerals, small 24-hour markers, and a date window. Wenger has applied a medium-strength lume to the 12-hour digits and hands, which lasts for perhaps three hours before fading into darkness. The hour and minute hands are thick and attractive, with a jousting lance-shaped second hand painted in a vivid and pleasing red.
So, there you are. It’s a medium sized watch with solid materials, good ergonomics, and an easily readable face. So why does it leave me so nonplussed?
Well, after a week or so of wear, I’ve realized that this is probably not the watch for me. Not because it’s a bad design, but because I’m not in its target audience. I came to this conclusion by observing the wrists of my coworkers. Most of the over-50 crowd is sporting either large-number digital or clear-reading analog watches similar in design to this particular Wenger. The nylon/leather band also seems to be a popular choice with the mature demographic. But I’m not going to ding the Wenger just because I feel like it wasn’t aimed at me. It’s nicely sized, comfortable, and easy to read, regardless of its intended audience. But I do have some issues with its build.
First and foremost is the band. Yes, it’s comfortable, but otherwise it makes no sense. Consider for a moment – The 72815 is marketed as a “Field Watch.” What do you generally do in the field? You sweat, get dirty, and generally make a mess. Yet, half of this watch’s band is made of leather, which isn’t exactly water-friendly. How am I supposed to clean this band?
Then there’s the case. I appreciate its stainless steel construction, but the black finish has proved to be very prone to scuffing. That’s fine, if you’re truly intending to beat on the watch. Just don’t expect it to maintain its like-new appearance for long. Kudos on the case back, though. Its mirror polish is certainly a thing to behold.
Let’s talk about the crystal. The back of the case declares it to be “Sapphire Coated” and, while I have no problem believing this, I’ve noticed that the crystal isn’t quite flush with the case. What you have instead is a slightly elevated rough angle along the circumference of the dial. Again, not a huge deal, but something that’s a little perplexing. There’s also an imperfection in my particular model – Either a bubble or a fleck of material is lodged beneath the crystal, just above the 22 mark. And the 24-hour markings themselves are a bit perplexing. On a watch designed for easy reading, why have they made these marks so small, and why are they in a different font? As it is, I feel they provide a bit of unnecessary clutter to the dial.
So, there you go. While the design of the Wenger Field Watch is solid overall, my example suffered a few letdowns in construction. None of these are deal-breakers, but they do combine to hurt the score.
3 stars out of 5
Personal taste and construction issues aside, the Wenger does one thing really, really well – It keeps accurate time. Over its two weeks of testing, my particular 72815 gained just a single second. That’s excellent, especially for a watch in the $50 neighborhood. I’m also a fan of the movement. The red second hand moves with a decisive assurance – no wiggle, no hesitation, just a strong tick-to-tick progression. Setting the watch is a breeze, with no indication of weakness in the crown.
If there’s a knock here, it’s the lume. As mentioned above, it doesn’t really hold its light long enough for my liking. This makes me hesitate to think of it as an overnight camping companion. Beyond this, however, the Wenger Field Watch is a champion of function. If you’re looking for a strong, accurate machine for daily carry, this Swiss quartz movement has a lot to offer.
4.5 stars out of 5
Wenger offers a three year limited warranty on their watches, providing excellent protection for a relatively small investment. And, like I said, I have no doubts about the strength of its mechanism. I’m a little iffier when it comes to the band. While the leather and nylon may hold up under heavy use, I worry that the accumulated sweat and grime of field use may render it a little unpleasant to wear. This could be solved with a simple band swap, perhaps with a NATO or Zulu strap. The case coating will wear, as well, but no more so than many other watches in this price range.
4.5 stars out of 5
If you’re looking at a Timex Expedition, you should take a moment to check out the Wenger Field Watch. While I initially gave high marks to the Expedition, I’ve since gone through three of them due to faulty crowns. I have no such concerns about the Wenger, even with its slightly similar unprotected-crown design. The watch feels solid on the whole, especially when measured against similarly priced competition.
So, if the design appeals to you, I’d say this is a “Buy.” Its more accurate than a Seiko SNK809, more durable than an Expedition, and you’ll have the peace of mind of a three year manufacturer warranty.
4 stars out of 5
While the Wenger Field Watch may not match my personal style, I can’t deny its utility. It’s a strong performer, despite some curious design choices and minor construction flaws. If you come across one of these in a brick and mortar shop and find yourself taken by its form, I think you’ll be genuinely pleased with its function.
Tune in next week for another watch from Wenger that’s a little more my speed – the Urban Metropolitan.
Where to Buy
Amazon (Rated 4.2 out of 5 stars over 23 customer reviews)